Prepping for a Reset, Part 6: Speed Demon

Many folks mistake speed and pedal-stroke work as only beneficial for those who ride actual bikes outdoors. This is not the case. Although it is a popular understanding that higher leg speeds produce greater power (force X velocity = power), there are also mechanical and neuromuscular benefits for everyone.

For Your Fitness Enthusiasts

Most non-cyclists will love a profile that focuses on leg speed because…it is fast. They like fast. Fast (in the minds of many) equals work. Fast is fun. Underneath all of that fun is a happy central nervous system. In order to provoke our muscles to move our body quickly, our nervous system must say go. Bingo, now we have neuromuscular action. Too often, only the strength or function of our muscles is emphasized as needed for a healthy body; your body’s ability to respond and react quickly is equally as important. So let’s exercise a healthy nervous system and have fun in the progress.

NOTE: Lack of speed for some can be discouraging. Let your riders know that speed does not happen without a dedicated focus over time. I use myself as an example (feel free to twist it to your advantage). “When I first got inspired to start riding I realized my cadence was very slow—70 rpm average. I could not keep up with other riders and my legs would fatigue quickly. One of my best friends, a pro-level rider, took me under his wing. We used many of the drills listed below. It took me 4–6 months to raise my average cadence from 70 to 100 rpm. So stay encouraged and work—you may not see improvement right away, but if you continue to work at it, your legs will get faster, generate more power, and your nervous system will be crankin’.”

For Your Outdoor Cyclists

Even though it is generally understood that faster leg speeds equal greater power, not every outdoor cyclist knows this or knows how to improve. Much of this biomechanical knowledge is usually restricted to competitive riders. I’ve trained numerous charity riders, century riders, and those just trying to keep up or beat their friends on the weekends. I love their amazement when they see the connection between leg speed and the quality and performance of their ride. For the outdoor rider, this kind of profile is generally not a hard sell.

Sample Profile Outline—Speed Demon


  1. Tom,

    What is the difference between the Spin Ups and the Speed intervals? They are both 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off right?

  2. Is the profile above RPMx? Just taught this on Tuesday and my riders were sold. They loved it–as they love all Tom Scotto profiles. Thanks always Tom! 😉 Can’t wait for your next profile!

  3. I am wondering if this part of a series and if yes, where are previous posts?

    1. Author
    2. Thanks so much Tom. My classes have been so well received lately…..ICA helps me become a better teacher.

  4. What are spin ups?
    When you say 30 second speed intervals 6-8 mins – what do u mean?

    1. Author

      Hi Kay,

      I often perform these 30 seconds on / 30 seconds off for 6-8 minutes using music that is between 100-120rpm. Riders will alternate from 50-60rpm to 100-120rpm during the interval.

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